Take one look at their Instagram feed and you’ll instantly be craving a juicy burger, a crispy chicken sandwich, or some hand cut fries. Food truck Cibi! Cibi! is instantly recognizable with its minimal navy blue exterior and the delicious smells escaping it.
Serving up modern American food with inspirations from all over the world, duo Hunter Newton and Anthony Legatie are focused on food and relationships before anything else.
Both Hunter and Anthony possess a passion for enjoying good food in a comfortable environment with a strong community of people. They met while working at Local Dish where Anthony was head chef. Hunter started off as a server and grew passion toward cooking working under Anthony. He made his way up the line after a few years until they were working side by side every day.
The two frequently talked back and forth about opening a food truck – it was something that Anthony was interested in since high school and that Hunter thought would be fun – but neither really understood what opening one would entail.
When Amor Artis Brewing opened up in downtown Fort Mill, they went to check it out together. It was hard to miss the food trucks that the brewery partnered up with during their first months of opening. This was the turning point, when the pair knew that a truck could really be something attainable.
After a meeting with the Amor team, Hunter told Anthony that they had to do this. The two jumped in head first, still not really knowing what they were about to get themselves into, but ready to tackle it head on.
Everything about the process of creating the concept of the truck, to developing the branding was done in a kitchen without many formal meetings. But still, the power of the brand shines through as something authentic to the food and to the owners themselves. Even the name was something that was casually thrown out by a friend that stuck.
Like their tagline says – no matter how you say it, Cibi! Cibi! means food. Hunter and Anthony wanted a name that wouldn’t limit them. They wanted to keep an open concept in order to experiment with different styles and flavors. By literally naming the truck “food food” they are able to play with whatever they want and not have it conflict with their brand – a stroke of unintentional genius if you ask me!
The guys really don’t care how you pronounce the name, but if you’re curious, they’ll let you know that it’s ky-bee ky.bee, but chee-by chee-by is fine too. Just as long as you’re ready to enjoy some fantastic food.
Initially, the duo based their business model off of a typical restaurant experience. They were familiar with this aspect of service and food development, and thought they would just seamlessly transition this into the truck.
They weren’t prepared for the limitations that this new environment would create. Namely, how the limited amount of space would affect their ability to produce a diverse menu at all times.
At first, they were trying to develop a menu based on rules they learned working in a restaurant. They tried having several different proteins, a veggie option, and alternatives within the menu at all times. They learned pretty quickly that this was just not a sustainable route.
They started to adapt their practices for the truck, experimenting with different aspects of their process in order to create a system that worked for them. They learned to focus on several staples on each menu – which still rotates – and use ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes.
This approach allows them to keep the business aspect of the truck in mind, while also continuing their mission to keep an open concept and experiment with different food everyone will like.
It is not just about individual sales. It is about the relationship you create.
When Hunter and Anthony took those first steps toward the truck, they knew that it would be focused on community. The collaboration between Amor and Cibi! Cibi! was only the beginning when it came to serving and connecting with the community.
Neither wanted the truck to feel like something exclusive or unattainable, for customers or for places looking to host them. They wanted the truck to be a place that people could gather and connect no matter the geographical location.
Especially, they wanted to use the truck to develop a relationship with the people who visit. Although the truck is mobile, their success with relationship development is clear in the fact that people go out of their way to go to places hosting the truck.
During the COVID pandemic, the duo have been taking online orders for people to pick up either outside of the Warehouses on White or behind Slow Play Brewing. Now they are serving folks who are reconnecting with their community by hanging out on the stores’ patios.
Because of the strong community and relationships the pair built with other businesses and the dedicated following they gained in their first year of operation they have been able to continue serving up some of people’s favorite food.
As their business has grown from only operating outside Amor, to having several weekly locations and attending large events, Hunter and Anthony will never step back from the helm… er… steering wheel. They plan on keeping the hands on approach to their food and their customer service to ensure that it always meets their standards.
This doesn’t mean that they don’t plan to expand – just the opposite!
Already, the two bought and opened up a commissary for their truck and others to operate out of. A commissary is necessary for a food truck, so that they have a spot to work from that isn’t the truck, both for their own needs, and to satisfy rules the Department of Health has.
Hunter and Anthony wanted to open up the commissary in the Rock Hill area, because of the struggle they faced trying to find one when they first opened. Food trucks are growing in popularity in this community and the guys want to help foster growth in the business.
Thanks to the expanded space they now have through their commissary, they are now catering events. They have already worked a couple of weddings and other big events and would be excited to expand this aspect of their business.
They talk often about the possibility of opening up a brick and mortar location in the future. They would still be utilizing the truck as their main component, but the idea of opening up a restaurant is enticing to say the least. They would be able to return back to more experimental foods that they love and not have to worry as much about having the space to execute the dishes.
Despite struggles with the new concept at first, the pair have grown from that and become a hot spot for the community with a place to gather and enjoy good food together. They want to continue this, whether that be on the patio of a local brewery or out of a location they own themselves.